Various persons dead, including two children, and at least five wounded: this is the tragic balance sheet of the plane crash in Moscow. A Sukhoipassenger plane of the Russian flag company Aeroflot caught fire and made an emergency landing at Sheremetzevo airport.

The passengers, the Russian media know, were rescued by evacuating the aircraft with emergency slides but the plane continued to burn on the runway, sending a large column of black smoke into the air.

According to reports from Russian news agencies, a passenger noticed the fire while the plane was flying direct to Murmansk and informed the crew. The pilot then returned to the airport north of the capital. Once landed, the aircraft evacuation operation started whilst it continued to burn on the runway.

The plane took off from Sheremetyevo headed for Murmansk and was forced to make an emergency landing shortly after. State television showed a video of the plane on the runway with a trail of flames and smoke from its wings. The aircraft was a Sukhoi Supejet 100 with 73 passengers on board.

The cause of the tragedy is not known. Some sources claim that there was a fault in the electrical circuit. Others say the plane was struck by lightning. According to a source interviewed by the Interfax agency, a first attempt at an emergency landing would not have been successful, and on the second attempt the plane would have hit the runway with the trolley and the front and would have caught fire.

According to BBC, the data from the Flightradar24 website, which gives the position of the aircraft in real time, seem to confirm that the emergency landing occurred about 30 minutes after take-off. Kristian Kostov, a former Bulgarian participant in the Eurovision who was in Sheremetyevo, posted his testimony of the incident on social media, explaining that people in the airport “were shaking” from fear after seeing the aircraft engulfed in flames on the runway.

The plane was quite new, it seems that the construction had been completed in August 2017. Authorities have announced an investigation into the catastrophe. But they are already debating the fact that the main Russian state television news agency did not dedicate the opening to tragedy but to the situation in Venezuela.

Moscow air crash
In this image provided by Riccardo Dalla Francesca shows smoke rises from a fire on a plane at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on Sunday, May 5, 2019. (Riccardo Dalla Francesca via AP)